Norwich City midfielder Bradley Johnson in the form of his life
Bradley Johnson insists he is in the form of his life after playing a key role in Norwich City's Premier League revival.
The 25-year-old midfielder is the only man to have started every top flight game for the club under Chris Hughton this season, in spite of a fierce battle to feature in the centre of the park for the Canaries. City's nine-match unbeaten league run ahead of Wigan's Carrow Road visit this weekend has been forged on Johnson's impressive alliance with Alex Tettey, before Jonny Howson stepped in last week at Swansea in the Norwegian's injury absence.
Johnson believes such cut-throat competition to remain in favour on a weekly basis has spurred him to new heights in a career that started out at Cambridge United.
'I am playing my best football. I am enjoying my football,' he said. 'I'm getting picked every week. I'm enjoying it now but I know it can change in an instant so I'm not getting too complacent and not getting ahead of myself. I just want to get picked every Saturday and that comes down to training hard and being fit and available.
'I've learned a lot more from last season. It was my first year in the Premier League and this season I think I'm more disciplined in the job I do. I'm a holding midfielder and more of a defensive player, but I'm learning every game I go into. This is a great league to be in and I want to be in here for as long as I can and learn more.'
Johnson has derived plenty of satisfaction from emerging as the one constant in Hughton's midfield mix.
'I have. It's good to be picked every week, but it's down to me working hard,' he said. 'I wasn't expecting to play every game but if I keep on getting picked and working hard in training, the gaffer will pick me. I'm happy with the way I'm going and it's good to have that competition because it keeps everyone on their toes.
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'Every game I go into I give 100 per cent. I want to play every game. But I know there will be a time when it's not right for me to play and I accept that and I will take it on the chin because I know there are players at this club who can easily come in and do as good a job. But I'm in the team now and I want to stay in the team as long as I can.'
The former Leeds man suffered Capital One Cup disappointment in midweek but Johnson is confident there will be no hangover from a 4-1 defeat to Aston Villa.
'We've come in, we've reflected on it, we've talked about it. We know we weren't good enough and the only thing we can do now is put it behind us and concentrate on getting back to the league and, I hope, picking up three points on Saturday,' he said. 'We didn't do the things we've been doing throughout the season. The unbeaten run that we went on was down to us all working hard as a team and sticking together and I don't think we did that on Tuesday. Although Villa had a good game, we certainly weren't up to our standards and we've come in, trained and talked about the game and we're putting it behind us. We've got to go into the Wigan game and do what we did at Swansea last week.'
Johnson's manager yesterday paid tribute to the midfielder's contribution to the cause in helping turn around the Canaries' fortunes.
'He is a lad who has done very, very well for us,' said the City boss. 'He gives us a nice balance on that left-side of centre. He has got a good all-round game. He is certainly a tenacious player with a physical presence who can also see a pass and when the opportunity is there to get forward he can do that as well. The fact he is the only ever-present speaks volumes for him. He has that defensive aspect to his game but he gives us that natural left-footed balance.'